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You are browsing all posts tagged with the topic: intention

Rick Hanson PhD

Jul 25, 2014

Is the intention a goal or already realized?

golden hourDo you express the intention as a goal or as something already realized?

This gets at a recurring question, even a debate, in Buddhism (and also in psychology and in some religions): Is it about progressing toward an enlightened state, or is it about uncovering the enlightened condition that has always been present? I can’t do justice here to the nuances of that consideration, but I can say what many wise people think is at the marrow of the matter: both are true. (Darn that middle way.)

In other words, it is powerful to focus on intention both as an aim toward a target, and as something that is already the case. The …

Rick Hanson PhD

Jun 25, 2014

Expressing your intentions

Canadian Geese Flying in V FormationOnce your intentions are clear, the next question is: How to express them?

There are many ways, including:

  • As thoughts in your mind
  • As an image
  • In writing
  • As a collage with words and images
  • Through physical expression, posture, movement, dance
  • As a sense of being

When you think intentions, you know them to yourself. Putting them in explicit words is usually helps create real clarity in your mind. Some intentions co-exist as equally vital, but many times it’s important to establish what your top priorities are. It’s kind of like filling a bucket: you want to get the big rocks in first, then the pebbles, and last the sand. Your most important aims are …

Rick Hanson PhD

Jun 05, 2014

Intention of renunciation

Dandelion seeds blown in the skyRenunciation is founded on a disenchantment with the world and with experience, based on right view. You see through all the possibilities of experience: you see their ephemeral, insubstantial, empty qualities, no matter how alluring or seemingly gratifying. You see the suffering embedded in the experience, the “trap,” as the Buddha put it. And you see the happiness, peace, and love available in not chasing after pleasure or resisting pain.

Based on this clear seeing, you align yourself with the wisdom perspective and with the innate, prior, always already existing wakeful, pure, peaceful, and radiant awareness within yourself. In so doing, you renounce worldly things and worldly pleasures. …

Rick Hanson PhD

May 02, 2014

Intention of non-ill will

yellow flowerHere we give up angry, punishing reactions toward others, animals, plants, and things. If such attitudes arise, we resolve not to feed them, and to cut them off as fast as we can.

The Buddha placed great stress on the importance of releasing ill will. In the extreme, he said that even when we are being grossly mistreated by others, we should practice good will toward them, and wish them the best.

To be sure, that does not mean turning a blind eye toward injustice and mistreatment – of ourselves as well as others – nor does it mean turning our back on skillful actions of protection, advocacy, and betterment. It is perfectly …

Rick Hanson PhD

Apr 02, 2014

Intention of harmlessness

Kitten on a white backgroundThis is a broad aim of not causing pain, loss, or destruction to any living thing. At a minimum, this is a sweeping resolution to avoid any whit of harm to another human being. The implications are far-reaching, since most of us participate daily in activities whose requirements or ripples may involve harm to others (e.g., use of fossil fuels that warms the planet, purchasing goods manufactured in oppressive conditions).

Further, in American culture there is a strong tradition of rugged individualism in which as long as you are not egregiously forceful or deceitful, “let the buyer beware” on the other side of daily transactions. But if your aim …

Rick Hanson PhD

Mar 17, 2014

Wholesome intentions – The neurology of intention

Burning candleOur intentions arise in the brain, are represented in the brain, and are pursued in the brain. Where else?

Therefore, a basic understanding of how intentions work in the brain – and thus in your mind – is a very useful thing to have.

The Executive Functions
The brain is like a committee, with many parts or “members” working together – or at cross purposes! – and the frontal lobes are like the chair of that committee. Or, to use a different metaphor, if the psyche altogether is a vast land, with a capital and many provinces, the frontal lobes are like the city manager of the capital.

But of course that does not mean …

Rick Hanson PhD

Mar 14, 2014

Wholesome intentions – Introduction

Burning candleThese statements about reality, about the way things really are, are central to Buddhism, and you can test them for yourself:

  • Everything happens because of preceding causes. Everything, both inside our minds and outside in the world.
  • Those causes lead to results that are either beneficial or harmful, for ourselves and others.
  • Causes originate within yourself and outside yourself.
  • The primary source of the causes that originate inside you are your own intentions. As one teacher put it, “Everything rests on the tip of motivation.”
  • Some of our intentions are very deliberate and conscious, while others are shadowy or altogether hidden. Multiple intentions dance, join with, and oppose each other in the mind, some have more

Bodhipaksa

Nov 18, 2013

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” Rainer Maria Rilke

rilke_33A woman on the Triratna Buddhist Community’s Urban Retreat, which this year focused on the theme of cultivating lovingkindness, or metta, asked a question about how to deal with “strong emotion” — especially grief — that may arise during lovingkindness practice. For this person, grief tended to arise particularly while she was cultivating lovingkindness toward herself, and she wondered how to be honest with her experience but not dissolve into and become lost in it.

I offered her a few suggestions, which I’ll enlarge on here:

1. Stop considering grief as an emotion.

Is grief an emotion? Is “emotion” even a meaningful term, in the context of Buddhist practice?

Increasingly I find the …

Sunada Takagi

Nov 28, 2011

Sampajañña: unraveling lifelong habits with mindfulness

It’s discouraging, isn’t it, to watch ourselves fall repeatedly into our same old habitual traps. We try to practice mindfulness, but it can be frustrating. Do you ever have days where you’re so caught up that you realize only at night, despite your best intentions, that you weren’t mindful for even one moment?

And it’s especially hard when we’re face to face with lifelong tendencies that resist change in a big way.

But don’t lose heart. It doesn’t mean you’re no good at this. After all, you NOTICED that you weren’t being mindful. That noticing is a positive event. Even though it happened after the fact, …

Sunada Takagi

Nov 30, 2009

In the moment, in the sweep of time

Now, tomorrow, yesterdaySunada sometimes hears skepticism about the idea of being “in the moment.” Does it really mean we should cut ourselves off from our past and future? Are we to drop all our cherished memories? Should we naïvely stop planning for our future? No, she’s quite certain this isn’t what the Buddha had in mind when he taught about mindfulness. So let’s take a closer look at what it might really mean.

In the Buddhist scriptures, mindfulness is described as having several different aspects. One of them is sati, which is Pali for recollection, memory, or recalling to mind.

 we can be aware of our past (a helpful thing to